Mille Crêpe Cake
Recipe adapted from The New York Times’ Gâteau de Crêpes
For the crêpes
6 tablespoons butter
3 cups milk
1 3/4 cups flour
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Cooking spray or butter
1. The day before, prepare the crêpe batter. In a small pan, cook the butter until browned. Set aside.
2. In another small pan, heat the milk until steaming, allow to cool for 10 minutes.
3. In a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter. Pour into a container with a spout, cover and refrigerate overnight.
4. The next day, bring the batter to room temperature. Place a non-stick or seasoned 6-inch crepe pan over medium heat. Add a little butter or apply cooking spray on the surface of pan.
5. Add scant 1/4 cup batter and swirl to cover the surface. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 minute, then carefully lift an edge and flip the crepe with your fingers. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until you have at least 20 crêpes.
6. This recipe makes about 6 cups of thin batter, and makes about 28 (6-inch) crêpes.
For the pastry cream
2 cups milk
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp butter
1. Bring the milk to a boil, then set aside for 10 minutes. Fill a large bowl with ice and set aside a small bowl that can hold the finished pastry cream and be placed in this ice bath.
2. In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then place pan over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes. It will thicken quickly after the first minute is over. Don’t overcook. You’re looking for a thick pudding consistency, not any thicker.
3. Press the pastry cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the small bowl. You may not need to do this (I didn’t) if you whisk carefully enough to avoid lumps from forming :-). Set the bowl in the ice bath and stir until the temperature reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Stir in the butter. Cover and refrigerate until completely cold before using.
Assembling the cake
2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar
1. Pass the pastry cream through a sieve once more. (Again I didn’t have to do this. My pastry cream was smooth enough.)
2. Whip the heavy cream with the sugar until soft peaks form. Fold it into the pastry cream.
3. Lay 1 crepe on a cake plate. Using an icing spatula, completely cover with a thin layer of pastry cream (about 3 tbsp.) Cover with a crepe and repeat to make a stack of 20 or more, with the best-looking crepe on top.
4. Chill for at least 2 hours. The colder or firmer the cake, the easier it is to cut.
5. You can caramelize the top with a blowtorch or dust with powdered sugar or decorate with whipped cream and fresh fruits. Slice like a cake.